NJ nurses still leaving the profession: Fears about a crisis are growing
Even before the pandemic, New Jersey was facing a nursing shortage. But there are growing fears the Garden State could soon be facing a bonafide nursing crisis that could significantly impact patient care.
A recent survey finds more than a third of nurses plan to leave their current role by the end of this year, and a report by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses finds 66% of acute and critical care nurses have considered leaving the profession.
Judy Schmidt, the CEO of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, said “it’s going to be an incredible shortage of nursing.”
“With the shortage of staffing in most health care facilities, whether it’s a hospital, a nursing home, the nurses are just overworked, they’re tired," she said.
More than just burnout
Schmidt said that over the past two years, nurses have been working incredibly long hours but traveling nurses earn far more than nurses based at hospitals, which she says "put a little bit of salt in the wound.”
She said many nurses appreciate being praised but also feel “you need to show me appreciation in a, some way in a salary or a benefit, you know they’re struggling out there.”
Nurses getting attacked
She said another reason why so many nurses are leaving the profession is patient abuse.
“Nurses are actually assaulted more often than correctional workers and police officers,” Schmidt said.
Nurses who feel burned out from the pandemic are now thinking “there could be other infectious diseases that could come in and cause almost the same scenario that we had with COVID.”
To address the worsening nursing shortage Schmidt said hospitals are looking at different models of care that might incorporate other levels of healthcare providers such as nursing assistants.
She said this won’t necessarily solve the problem “but it might just stop the bleed until we can get more nurses graduating from schools of nursing.”
We need more nurses
She pointed out “some schools of nursing are having difficulties getting nursing students, the supply and demand has really shifted.”
To attract more nurses to the profession, she said we need to change the image of nurses slumped in the corner crying in the ER, to a brighter picture that shows the positive impact nurses can have one the lives of so many people.
“We don’t want to lose our experienced nurses, but we also want to make sure our new nurses are supported so they don’t wind up saying I can’t do this anymore after a few years.”